The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office has entered into an agreement with the City of Chiloquin to commit 40 hours of law enforcement each month to the city through the end of June of 2020.
The Klamath County Board of Commissioners on Nov. 26 unanimously approved and signed the agreement between the city and the Sheriff’s Office to commit a deputy to the area, the cost of $3,333 a month paid for by Chiloquin.
Sheriff Chris Kaber said he began talking about a partnership like this in 2017 when the then mayor of Chiloquin reached out to him. Since then, he was able to finalize a contract with current Chiloquin Mayor Julie Bettles and the Chiloquin City Council to bring before the county commissioners.
Kaber said that when structuring this contract they looked at examples like the agreement between the city of Bonanza and Malin Police.
Chiloquin City Councilman Kevin Ketner attended the commissioners meeting at Sheriff Kaber’s invitation and said in an interview that this partnership was “overdue.”
Although he wished they had the funding to have an officer around even more, this is a start toward curbing the crime rate in Chiloquin that “had gotten out of hand.”
Timing of patrols
Kaber said that timing of the 40 hours of patrols each month in Chiloquin will depend on deputy availability and when someone is free to spend some time further north. Both Kaber and Ketner also expressed desire to commit some of those patrol hours to times during community events or gatherings.
When staffing permits, Kaber said it’s also a good opportunity to train someone in north county when a trainee is available to go with a deputy to patrol Chiloquin.
“The city council up there is taking great steps to try and improve the safety and livability in that area, and I commend them for that, and we will try and do our part as law enforcement partners with the council to do what we can,” Kaber said.
Klamath County Commissioner Donnie Boyd also highlighted the importance of having more law enforcement in Chiloquin and noted that Chiloquin is the only incorporated city in the county without law enforcement.
“I think it’s very important that Chiloquin has some sort of continuing law enforcement presence,” Boyd said. “Chiloquin was the only incorporated city in the county that does not have law enforcement, so I think it was a fantastic solution to contract with the Sheriff’s Office.”
Ketner said that his hopes for the partnership go beyond lowering crime in the city but also include strengthening the relationship between residents and law enforcement.
“I’m hoping it will build more of a relationship with the Sheriff’s Office and the community where people in the area trust the Sheriff’s Office again,” Ketner said.
He said it can be hard for people to trust law enforcement there when their calls go unresponded, or when they don’t see much follow up on crimes in the area. Ketner hopes having a deputy around will help people understand more of what goes into getting someone to respond to crimes about half an hour outside of the biggest town in the county where the department is based.
Chiloquin Fire and Rescue also offered the KCSO a place for officers to do reports and have an office to work out of when needed.
“These sort of partnerships with other public safety agencies or other small governmental agencies are so important,” Kaber said.
While both Ketner and Kaber hope to continue the partnership between the entities past the contract expiration date of June 30, 2020, Ketner said they have to continue to work to find the funding required.
In the meantime, Ketner said, “We’re trying to clean this town up,” and hopes they’re on the right track to expanding the city and the economy to attract more people and businesses to Chiloquin.